Interior Cleaning

I Tried the simplehuman Trash Can: Does the Functionality of the Justify Its High Price?

This isn’t just a trash can. Housed inside the simplehuman 46-liter trash can is a trash receptacle as well as a recycling bin.
simplehuman Trash Can

Photo: Shannon Lee

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When looking for a trash can, some might believe that any old receptacle will do. But a trash can is something you’ll use on a daily basis and live with for years, so it pays to get it right by choosing one that suits your lifestyle and looks great in the process. Enter the simplehuman line of trash cans, which blend functionality with a streamlined style that fits in with the appearance of almost any kitchen.

The simplehuman Rectangular Dual Compartment Recycling Kitchen Step Trash Can holds 46 liters, or 12.2 gallons, divided into two bins, one holding about 8 gallons and the other 4 to 5 gallons. One is for trash, one is for recycling—you choose which. Made of brushed stainless steel to fight against fingerprint smudges and featuring a sturdy step that silently opens the lid, this dual trash can and recycling unit was a delight to test in my home kitchen.

simplehuman Trash Can: At a Glance

Rating: 4.8/5


simplehuman Trash Can
Photo: Shannon Lee
  • Trash and recycling in one convenient place
  • Lid easily stays open when needed
  • Both bins are removable


  • Small trash capacity
  • Uses proprietary bags
  • Users can get recycling and trash mixed up

Get the simplehuman trash can at:

What Is the simplehuman Trash Can?

This trash can, made of brushed stainless steel and housing two plastic bins (one for recycling and one for trash) has a long-lasting step that lifts the lid with ease and near silence. The rectangular shape makes it streamlined to be at home in even a small kitchen, but it looks great in a larger space, too.

The nonskid base keeps the trash bin right where you want it, no matter how many times you step on the pedal to lift the lid. The lid can stay wide open with the flip of a switch, which allows for easier use during meal prep.

The simplehuman trash can uses proprietary liners that fit perfectly in the bins, making cleanup a breeze. If messes do happen, the bins lift right out for easy cleaning. Though one bin is designed for recycling and the other for trash, there’s no rule against switching the uses—for instance, if you recycle more than you throw away, using the larger bin for recycling could be the way to go in your household.

simplehuman Trash Can
Photo: Shannon Lee

How Easy Is the simplehuman Trash Can to Put Together?

This trash can comes ready to use right out of the box. Simply remove the protective plastic around the trash can first, then open up the lid to look inside. You’ll find two bins as well as the pertinent paperwork and a few complimentary sets of trash and recycling bags designed to fit each bin perfectly. You might have to pull the bins out of the trash can to find the paperwork, which could have fallen below the bins.

The simplehuman trash can has a textured base, so it doesn’t slide on the surface of a kitchen floor no matter how sleek the flooring might be. Position the dual trash can where you want it, insert the bin liners, and that’s it. Ours was ready to go the moment we pressed our foot down on the step to open the lid.

Is the simplehuman Trash Can Easy to Use?

Our testing found that the trash can opens quite easily with light pressure on the step, making it a good option for homes with children or those with limited mobility or leg strength. The lid opens quickly yet quietly. You can dispose of food scraps without messing with the lid or balancing a mess in your hands while you open the can.

The proprietary liners are easy to install and hold steady in the bins. There is occasionally an issue with a liner coming loose at the top when an item of significant weight is dropped in, but this is often the case with any brand of trash can. Reinstalling the liner was as easy as simply pulling it back into place, which took only seconds.

Cleaning of the trash can is quite easy, especially considering that both bins are removable and the trash can, overall, is surprisingly lightweight. But don’t mistake that lighter weight for a less sturdy container; this one held up even when bumped with the kind of force that might easily dent lesser trash cans.

simplehuman Trash Can
Photo: Shannon Lee

What Are the Design Attributes of the simplehuman Trash Can?

This trash can is designed as a dual trash and recycling bin. The color blue is often designated as the “recycling color,” as evidenced by the blue recycling bins found on curbs across the nation. However, this doesn’t have to be the way it works in your household. If you choose to use the white bin for recycling, that’s entirely up to you. Just remember that one bin is larger than the other, and plan your trash or recycling removal accordingly.

In a busy household, having two bins within the same trash can might get confusing, so it will be imperative to make sure no trash makes it into the recycling, and vice versa.

The wide, ergonomic step on this can lifts the lid silently and completely, making it easy to drop items inside. This helps keep the can cleaner, since no grubby hands need to touch the lid. The step doesn’t take much force and is wide enough to impart a feeling of stability every time you use it. Due to its sturdy design, the trash can doesn’t tip forward at all, even when entirely empty.

Is the simplehuman Trash Can of Good Quality?

This step recycler and trash bin by simplehuman includes a large bin for recycling and a smaller bin for trash or vice versa, depending on your household needs. The sturdy step is engineered and tested to last for more than 150,000 steps—that equates to opening the lid 20 times a day for 20 years.

Pressing on the step with light to medium pressure opened the top with ease in our testing. The shiny step seems as though it would be too slick to have good grip, but it works well in that regard; we even tested that out with a variety of shoes, especially those with slicker soles, and the grip worked flawlessly.

The lid rises quickly yet quietly. It holds steady as long as your foot is on the pedal, then slowly drops with the gentlest of sighs. You can employ the small switch on the right-hand side of the trash can to lock the lid in an open position. This can save time and hassle as you work on meal prep, clean out the fridge, or complete other tasks for which it would be bothersome to step on the pedal repeatedly. To close it, simply disengage the latch and watch the lid drift downward.

The brushed stainless steel body is designed to block fingerprints; our testing found that while this works most of the time, it’s not foolproof, so expect to wipe down your trash can now and then to avoid unsightly smudges.

simplehuman Trash Can
Photo: Shannon Lee

Is the simplehuman Trash Can Worth the Money?

The retail price of this trash can holds steady at around $150 at most retailers. After the initial purchase, there are no true maintenance costs beyond the simple products needed to clean the trash can occasionally, but these are products you likely already have around the home. And since the can’s step is rated to last for at least 150,000 uses, it’s safe to say this is an investment that will hold you in good stead for a long time.

However, there is the cost of liners. This trash can uses proprietary simplehuman liners, which can be more expensive than others on the market. Specifically, the trash can requires the approximately 8-gallon “H” liners and the 5-gallon “V” liners, for a total of about 12.2 gallons. Though liners from other manufacturers could certainly be used, they could prove to be too small and slip down into the bins, or be too large and show outside of the trash can when the lid is closed.

Is the simplehuman Trash Can Right for You?

This trash can and recycling unit is a great option for those who want a streamlined look in their kitchen. If you already use a separate recycling bin, this might not be the trash can for you; but if you are looking for something that does double-duty cleanup, this fits the bill and looks great at the same time. It resists most fingerprints, and the surface ties into kitchens with stainless steel appliances. If it does get dirty or if fingerprints smudge the surface, simply wipe with a damp cloth for a good-as-new look.

This simplehuman dual trash can is ideal for households with children, elderly, or those with mobility issues, since the step is so easy to use. It’s also quiet, so you don’t have to worry about that metallic slamming sound while the baby naps.

The bin liners are proprietary; if you want something that fits perfectly and is hidden by the lid, going with the simplehuman brand of liners is a must. However, these can be more expensive than the liners the competition uses, and they probably aren’t interchangeable as liners for other trash cans in the house. But if you really love the look of this trash can and you don’t mind a bit of extra expense for the liners, this will work for you.

Finally, the biggest selling points for this trash can are the flexibility of trash and recycling in one convenient bin, as well as the easy-open lid and streamlined look. Features like a stay-open switch for the lid and the whisper-quiet function are excellent bonuses that make this trash can a must for those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Where to Buy the simplehuman Trash Can